Chad has always been a studious child, followed the rules and always treated his parents with respect, which is why his parents were so shocked when he was cited to juvenile court for fighting on school grounds.
Emotions of, “where did I go wrong,” or “what could I have done differently,” can drive a parent crazy. But what parents should realize is sometimes what the child is doing is explainable and can be helped without leaving them with a criminal record or long standing ill effects. Sometimes, as in adult Court, a child is absolutely innocent and wrongly accused, sometimes is accountable with mitigating circumstances, or in some cases, guilty but can absolutely be rehabilitated.
I have dealt with many cases where a child who had been bullied, finally stands up for himself/herself and thus gets in trouble for defending themselves. The problem arises when a school does not merely suspend a child but actually gets police involved. That is when a defense attorney is necessary to not only defend your child but make sure your child stays in the home and stays out of trouble.
In California there has been a troubling pattern of sending young clients to the juvenile system rather than punishing them at the school level. Studies have shown that children thrusted in the juvenile system are more likely to re-offend rather than when schools take care of certain crimes themselves. I have handled hundreds of juvenile cases and have seen the fear and lack of knowledge in my clients’ eyes. The key is treating the issue from the origination—meaning, is the child acting out for attention? Is the child merely protecting themselves from a bully or torment? Is the child on drugs to cope with stress or sadness? Or is the child hanging out with the wrong influences ie: running with the wrong crowd? These issues must be recognized in order to not only defend the client accurately but also prevent the child from reoffending in the future.
With experts to evaluate a child accurately, a child can get a diversion granted from the court—where if the child does well for six months, the child’s case is terminated and an admission to the charge is never made. A child’s fate is often times in the hands of a caring and experienced attorney, parents who care about their child’s future and a child willing to put forth effort to show the Court they are worth the rehabilitation and not punishment.
By: Silva Megerditchian